When generating polylines from a series of points, I used "Points to Line" tool. From this, Arc generates a polyline feature class, which includes the attribute shape_length. What units are these shape lengths in? I am using the Canada_Albers_Equal_Area_Conic projection, which has the units of meters, but the shape lengths do not appear to be in meters. Any tips?

  • what format did you export your data to? SHP? GDB? Oct 10, 2014 at 15:54
  • 1
    Is your source geodatabase (or shapefile) layer in "Canada Albers Equal Area Conic" projection, or maybe just the ArcMap data frame? Oct 10, 2014 at 16:07
  • @RyanDalton - Correct. This is likely the answer; that macdonaw has created a Feature Class or Shapefile that is in a projection other than that of his dataframe. Easy enough to check. You should make it an answer for credit :)
    – user23715
    Oct 10, 2014 at 18:38

1 Answer 1


According to the ArcGIS Help website for a related tool, this field should be in the units of the output coordinate system, which in your case is meters.

When the output is a feature class in a file geodatabase or a personal geodatabase, the values in the Shape_Length field are always in the units of the output coordinate system specified by the Spatial Reference parameter; and they are the planar lengths of the polylines.

If it doesn't appear that they are in meters, try checking your coordinate system properties to see what units your output coordinate system is in.

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I just did an example where my output coordinate system units were feet and the Shape_leng field showed up correctly in feet. Did you try adding a field and using the Calculate Geometry tool to show the actual lengths of the line segments in meters? This can help you confirm if your shape_leng units are or are not in meters for sure. Maybe the tool gave you a different line result that you were expecting.

  • @macdonaw If this answered your question, please click the green check near the voting arrows to mark it as "answered." More info here: gis.stackexchange.com/tour Dec 12, 2014 at 20:12

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